Volkswagen made motorsports history when its two Racing Touareg 2 TDIs came in at numbers one and two on the podium at the 2009 Dakar Rally.
History was made on several levels when the Volkswagen Factory Driving team won the 2009 Dakar Rally. It was the first time that a diesel-powered vehicle had won the Dakar, the first time VW itself had won the famous endurance race, the very first time the team posted a one-two finish and the first time ever that the Dakar Rally was not held in Europe and Africa. A lot of firsts indeed, but that's not all.
VW drivers Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz are South African and German respectively. Their teammates Mark Miller and Ralph Pitchford are American and South African respectively, making it the first one-two finish for South Africa as well. Miller became the highest finishing American to ever test the Dakar.
"It was just an incredible result for the Volkswagen team this year, with Giniel and Dirk taking the historic first diesel-powered win," said Clark Campbell, Volkswagen of America Motorsport Manager. "All of us here at Volkswagen of America are also especially proud of Mark and Ralph's tremendous finish this year as well."
Team Volkswagen made use of a special Race Touareg 2 TDI which is powered by a five-cylinder diesel turbo motor. It produces 280hp (206kW) and about approximately 440 lbs.ft. of torque. US consumers will get to test their own suburban rallying skills when the standard six-cylinder Touareg TDI appears at US dealers this spring.
Because of geopolitical reasons and a terror threat it was decided last year to move the rally to South America where competitors experienced temperatures ranging from 104 degrees Fahrenheit (40 degrees Celcius) to below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celcius). The race started from the city of Buenos Aires in Argentina, went across to Chile and ended back in Argentina. Teams were subjected to varied terrain that encompassed hard stony ground, very high sand dunes, extreme passages through water and scaling the Andes Mountains.